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UN Calls for the Prosecution of Countries Involved in the Yemen Civil War

Nayana Dhanya

14th September 2020


The ruins of a building post an airstrike in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. (Source: AFP)

On 9th September 2020, a United Nations report appealed to the Security Council to call attention to all the parties involved in the Yemeni civil war for alleged war crimes in the International Criminal Court.

UN-backed Group of Eminent Experts (GEE) published their third report investigating Yemen's violence and human rights violations. It covers the period of July 2019-June 2020 and is accompanied by around 400 interviews. Melissa Parke, a member of the GEE Report on Yemen, stated that they had found "Reasonable grounds to believe that the parties to the conflict have committed and continue to commit serious violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. Some of which may amount to war crimes".

Investigators identified that there were ‘no clean hands’ in the atrocities committed. However, it recognised Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and a few other European countries as having supported the warring sides by supplying weapons and other resources.

The report titled 'Yemen: A Pandemic of Impunity in a Tortured Land' highlights not only the alleged war crimes but also the ongoing humanitarian crisis that began in 2015. Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally recognised government—that is backed by Saudi Arabia—have been in war ever since the Houthi rebels took over the government.

"There is, for instance, no safe place for those near the front lines who face the risk of indiscriminate attacks, for children playing in fields in which landmines have been planted, for schoolchildren at risk of being recruited into armed forces or groups, or for human rights advocates or journalists who are targeted because of their work," said Ms Parke, according to UN News.

The report also emphasised how Yemeni children have been beyond traumatised by child recruitments for war, sexual and physical abuse, and deprived of the most basic human right—education.

Credible sources in the report state that the Houthi recruited 34 girls between June 2015 and June 2020. They were made to recruit other children and were used as spies, guards, medics, and members of the Zainabiyat. It identified 12 girls who were survivors of alleged sexual violence and, in some cases, an early and forced marriage related to their recruitment.

The report lists other human rights violations such as deprivation of life, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and torture. Simultaneously, Yemen's health crisis has been compounded due to the ongoing pandemic, significantly impacting the widespread malnutrition.

More than 1,00,00 people have been killed, and millions are caught in the crossfire with no escape. Kamel Jendoubi, the Chairperson of GEE, told Vatican News, "Yemen remains a tortured land, with its people ravaged in ways that should shock the conscience of humanity".

(Sources: Al Jazeera, Vatican News, UN News, The Washington Post)

Edited by Pratheek S

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